High school students have plenty of resources when choosing a college; Applicants can easily find information on everything from dorm room descriptions to campus cafeteria ratings.
Evaluating a coding bootcamp can be a different story –– sure, there’s lots of information available, but how much is of it is just a sales pitch? Make sure the programs you’re considering have answers to the questions below, not just shiny stats with no substance behind them.
1. Who else is the program admitting?
A well-designed program will require an application, skill evaluation and interviews, to ensure that every student is set up to succeed in the program. If a bootcamp is ready to take your credit card number without any questions upfront, they’re more interested in their bottom line than in your education.
2. How do they calculate their placement numbers?
Sure, 99% placements rate sounds good, but what’s really behind that number? Sky-high placement percentages can be meaningless, depending on how they’re calculated. There’s no standard industry definition of “employed” –– does it include graduates who got a job unrelated to their new field? Less-than-ideal freelance and part-time gigs?
Often, placement rates don’t reflect the full student sample size: students who dropped out, got an unrelated/non-technical job or who started their own company aren’t counted when calculating success rates. Do your research here, and don’t get distracted by the razzle dazzle.
3. How long does the program last?
Start a new career in tech in six weeks! Sounds too good to be true, and that’s probably because it is. Coding, web development, data science –– these aren’t skill sets you can learn overnight. If you want to ensure you’re valuable in your new field, you need an expansive breadth of knowledge and experience in solving real-world problems. High-quality programs are longer because you learn more, practice more and come away with more, so make sure you’re getting bang for your buck and not signing on for a “shortcut” that doesn’t take you anywhere.
4. Outside of class, what does this program offer?
Will your bootcamp send you off with nothing more than a certificate and a pat on the back? The right program doesn’t just offer training, it provides the connections for you to break into your new field. Whether it’s hiring events, access to a network of industry heavy-hitters or ongoing assistance with your resume, applications and interviews, the best bootcamps offer a range of resources to get you hired.
Beyond career services, what does your campus offer? Will you be stuck in a windowless cube all day, or surrounded by people eager to innovate and collaborate? While some bootcamps cultivate a community of like-minded learners, other leave you adrift on your own. Try to get a sense of the day-to-day before you commit to spending six months on campus –– it’s worth the research.
Coding bootcamps can change your life for the better, but only if you pick the right one. Keep these questions in mind, and you won’t end up wanting a refund.